Weekly Round-Up, 24-30 April 2024: Skateboarding Josei, pixiv TOS Changes, and They Were Eleven

By: Anime Feminist April 30, 20240 Comments
a flustered Himari imagining kissing her crush

AniFem Round-Up

Queerness and the Power of “Subtext” in Sound! Euphonium & Liz and the Blue Bird

Why sapphic audiences were drawn to Eupho, what makes it frustrating for many, and why the spin-off film feels so emotionally satisfying.

The possession and performance of relationship in Spice and Wolf

A spoiler-free look at how the series explores the idea of relationships-as-transaction and moving beyond that.

Chatty AF 205: 2024 Winter Season Wrap-Up

Some of our bottom titles managed to pull out some good content before the end and top titles that took an absolute nosedive in the second half.

What series that you love only became great in the second half?

Like, “actively a struggle to get through at the start” improved.

Beyond AniFem

pixiv Japanese Art Platform Blocks Adult Content in U.S., U.K. (Anime News Network, Anita Tai)

The new TOS, which comes alongside other recent anti-porn pushes, took effect in late April.

The new terms explicitly ban the posting of “obscene” and “lewd” material, as well as art depicting the exploitation of minors, non-consensual sexual activity, and “any content that appeals to the prurient interest, is patently offensive in light of community standards where you are located or where such content may be accessed or distributed.”

The new addendum to the terms of use can be read in full on the pixiv website.

While pixiv specified the change affects users whose “Country/Region” on the site is set to those two countries, the site’s new Service Master Terms of Use also states, “When registering User’s country or region of residence, User shall register User’s own true, accurate, and current information.”

The Spring 2024 Manga Guide: Sketchy (Anime News Network)

Review of the josei series’ first volume; in other related neat news, the ANN Manga Guide now also includes gei comi.

Sketchy is a powerful and, at times, painful portrait of what it feels like to be a woman in her 30s. Ako feels isolated from everyone around her, even her noncommittal boyfriend of multiple years. (One funny way the manga indicates that the boyfriend is Bad News is by making it clear that he thinks the widely lauded Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a bad movie.) But after encountering a group of female skateboarders one evening, Ako realizes that her 30s don’t have to be the end of something; they can be the beginning of something new.

Fans of Tokyo Tarareba Girls, especially those who appreciated that series’ frank and sympathetic eye for women who aren’t living their 30s according to plan, will appreciate Sketchy‘s loosely connected stories of Ako and the women around her, all dealing with different Millennial problems that somehow all lead them to try out the same beginner skateboarding class. Each character’s problems can be messy (for example, one had an affair with a married client), but they all focus on the unrealistic belief that a 30-something woman ought to have everything figured out by now. The freedom, energy, and risk inherent in skateboarding help them find a way out of their head.

‘Easy Japanese’ goes beyond disaster response role to foreign inclusion at museums and more (The Mainichi, Natsumi Hara)

The program was initially in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the foreign population in the capital stood at about 650,000 as of this past January — an increase of around 66,000 from the same month in 2023. Viewing the task of providing them with the amount of information they should be receiving, Otani said, “There must be many parents who wish to educate their children in a Japanese cultural setting. We’d like to think of approaches for the parents’ generation, too.”

Similar moves are being made across Japan. In the city of Fukuoka’s Chuo Ward, guidebooks and tours have been offered in easy Japanese at the Fukuoka Art Museum since 2022. In the city of Okayama, Kokugakuin University lecturer and easy Japanese expert Hiromi Takao became an advisor for five museums in 2023. According to Takao, workshops, panels and other activities in easy Japanese are being developed at over 30 facilities across Japan.

“On the one hand, curators value accuracy and dislike paraphrasing. But it will be absolutely critical for museums to be easily understood by everyone,” Takao said.

Bridal Designer Yumi Katsura, Who Revolutionized the Industry, Dies (Women’s Wear Daily, Rosemary Feitelberg)

Katsura was instrumental in popularizing Western bridal wear in Japan.

During an unmatched career, her accolades extended beyond the bridal industry, having once been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the wedding dress with the most pearls — 13,262 genuine Akoya cultured ones — and on another occasion having designed vestments worn by Pope John Paul II for Easter mass.

In adherence with her wishes, a memorial show and commemoration event will be held in lieu of a funeral.

Born in Tokyo, Katsura graduated from Kyoritsu Women’s University and earned a degree from the department of apparel science studies. She then relocated to Paris, where she enrolled in Les Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale de La Couture Parisienne to learn haute couture techniques.

After further developing her skills, Katsura opened her namesake company and became the first bridal-specific designer in Japan. The following year she opened the country’s first bridal salon and presented the first bridal fashion show ever held in Japan.

Pioneering as she was, the designer incorporated traditional Japanese techniques in bridal fashion. During the course of her career, her signature wedding gowns have been worn by brides in more than 30 countries. In terms of firsts, Katsura had many, including staging the first bridal fashion show in China and organizing the first Asian Bridal Summit in Tokyo. In 1993, she reached another personal milestone by creating the papal vestments for Pope John Paul II. Her record-setting wedding dress with the most pearls was shown in 2012 at a public display in Bunkyo, Tokyo of the “Yumi Mariee Princess of Mikimoto Pearls” wedding dress.

They Were Eleven (Shoujo Sundae)

Podcast discussion of the Hagio Moto adaptation.

In this episode of Shoujo Sundae, Giana and Chika review the 1986 shoujo sci-fi film They Were Eleven. Tada is one of the very few individuals who have made it to the final test before being granted entry into the Cosmos Academy. Only ten people were supposed to be present for the final test, which takes place over fifty-three days on a spaceship, but there were eleven! Listen as Giana and Chika talk through their speculations on who was the mysterious extra crew member, the unexpected conversation about gender on different planets, the magnificent Knu, the forced romance between Tada and Frol, and so much more.

Widower seeks changes to gender-biased bereavement pension in Japan (The Mainichi, Ran Kanno)

The man then became the sole provider for his four teen- and college-age children.

His wife became extremely busy, often coming home past midnight. In June 2019, she collapsed during a workplace gathering, and died due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage. She was 51.

“It must be a work-related illness,” the man thought. His instincts proved right, and a causal relationship between her work and death was later recognized.

The man sought payment of the bereavement pension under the workers’ compensation insurance system, in which employers primarily cover insurance premiums. If recognized, the recipient is eligible for a certain amount of benefits once every two months based on the deceased person’s average wage during their life.

However, at a labor inspection standards office he visited for procedures, an official explained the difference between men and women in eligibility requirements set under the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act.

If a person was getting by with their spouse’s income before the latter’s death, a widow is eligible for the bereavement pension unconditionally, while a widower is ineligible for the pension unless he is at least 55 years old or has a disability set by law. The man was 49 years old at the time and had no disabilities.

How The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio Captures the Reality of Gig Work (Anime News Network, Lucas DeRuyter and Steve Jones)

The recent voice-acting anime and anime-about-entertaining.

Steve: I guess you could also look at the bath scene as metatextual commentary on the kind of performative fanservice expected from a series like this, but I wouldn’t be that quick to let them have that cake and eat it, too. So to speak.

Lucas: Ugh, the highs and lows of this show. I love it when these kids confront the realities of working in the entertainment industry while having big feelings they’re not sure how to process for each other, but I hate it when they grope each other under the most contrived circumstances imaginable.

What really trips me up about that bath scene is just how tonally dissonant it is with the rest of the show. It’s strange that an anime that straight up acknowledges how young people’s youth and inexperience are commodified and exploited by a problematic industry and then just commodifies and exploits a lead character for the viewer to ogle. That’s weird!

Steve: Isn’t that just the catch-22 of writing a critique of the medium you are working in? To a certain inevitable degree, you will be guilty of the sins you condemn. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as cognizant as possible, but that’s how it goes. And to Voice Actor Radio‘s credit, aside from that scene, it’s been pretty focused on sympathizing with its characters and highlighting the myriad stresses of the entertainment industry. I’m a big fan of the writer with the perpetual bags under her eyes because that’s me.

Conservatives in LDP lash out over same-sex marriage ruling (The Asahi Shimbun, Shohei Sasagawa and Shinkai Kawabe)

As in the United States, “family values” is a popular rallying cry among the party’s politicians.

The court ruled the absence of same-sex marriage provisions, including in the Civil Law, violates the first paragraph of Article 24 in the Constitution, which defines freedom of marriage.

The high court’s presiding judge also took the unusual step of making an additional remark that calls for prompt response measures.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, however, has not backed down from his cautious stance on the issue.

“The government, at least, does not believe that the lack of same-sex marriage provisions is unconstitutional,” Kishida said at the March 15 Upper House Budget Committee session. “The court ruling has yet to be finalized, and similar lawsuits are pending at other courts, so we will keep closely watching the situation.”

LDP lawmakers who espouse traditional family values have long hampered efforts to even discuss legalizing same-sex marriage in the Diet, despite criticism that such opposition goes against global trends to respect individual dignity and diversity.

“Homosexuals are being disadvantaged in their daily social lives and are facing a sense of loss about their own existence,” the Sapporo High Court judge said in remarks included in the decision document. “This is an urgent issue, and there should promptly be sincere discussions and response measures to deal with the matter.”

Conservative politicians were even against an LGBT law for promoting public understanding toward sexual minorities, which was enacted in June last year, featuring some opposition bloc arguments.

‘We were told to target foreigners’: Ex-officer on systematic racial profiling by Japan police (The Mainichi, Robert Sakai-Irvine and Jun Ida)

The National Police Agency began investigating claims of profiling in 2022.

“In the time I was in the local policing section, we were told to target foreigners for questioning and check their foreign resident registration cards. There was also a ‘cracking down on foreigners’ month when we were ordered to put extra effort into checking cards, but also searching foreigners for drugs, knives or anything else illegal,” Taro Yamada (a pseudonym) told The Mainichi. Yamada, who joined the police in the 2000s and served for over 10 years, added that the order had come from the criminal investigation division, with a particular emphasis on catching visa violators.

He continued that during the crackdown month, officers were given forms to record the personal details — resident card number, birthday, country of origin, “everything” — of each foreigner they stopped to question. These forms were then submitted to not just the local policing division, but also the criminal investigation and public security divisions.

“After the month-long crackdown, I saw that there had been more visa overstayers caught, and I thought we’d had a positive effect,” Yamada said. “But later, I came to think that orders really emphasizing that we had to ‘crack down on foreigners’ — in other words judging people by their appearance alone — were a human rights violation.”

According to Yamada, there was no focus on questioning particular ethnicities when he was a patrol officer, but he did encounter deep biases against residents with darker skin.

VIDEO: Animator Dormitory is raising funds for maintenance and to build new dorms.

AniFem Community

Sometimes, just sometimes, the slog is worth it in retrospect.

I think I’d say K-ON. Not that it was ever bad or mediocre, but once kyoani was able to start doing its own original stuff and shake off much of what made the original manga kinda sketchy, that’s when it really comes into its own.
zombieland saga#first half of season one kinda sucks#second half is way better#and then season two is really good
Dennou Coil. I remember that it became really good scifi and extremely deep, but by god the first 8 episodes were boring as shit

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