Weekly Round-Up, 24-30 January 2024: Racial Profiling Lawsuit, KyoAni Arson Trial, and Blogging Burnout

By: Anime Feminist January 30, 20240 Comments
Shakugan lying in the grass with fireflies around her

Content Warning: This week’s round-up includes a number of heavy topics including sexual abuse, racial profiling, suicide, and hate crimes

AniFem Round-Up

Anime Feminist Recommendations of Fall 2023

Fall had something for just about everyone, from superheroes to work rom-coms to conspiracy thrillers.

Anime Feminist’s Top Picks for 2023

2023 saw some massive franchises retire, others make history, and old favorites return. Settle in and check out our favorites from the year that was!

What was your favorite anime film of 2023?

Extra challenge level, since movies can be tougher to find streaming.

Beyond AniFem

Empty Movement’s 2023 Revolutionary Girl Utena UPDATE (Empty Movement)

Round-up of the latest additions to the best English-language Utena resource on the internet.

Fashionably late? As always. 2023 was a HUGE year for Empty Movement, so much so that to confess, we did a big fail in actually keeping up with sharing the stuff we did! OOPS. So finally, we proudly bring you: all the Revolutionary Girl Utena content we dropped in 2023. Essays, artbooks, CD information, you name it. Click below for the entire site update, or get it at the source, as always, at ohtori.nu.

Victim’s expose about Kitagawa in 1988 creates short-lived buzz (The Asahi Shimbun, Amane Shimazaki)

First in a series of articles about sexual abuse allegations against the late Johnny Kitagawa. Includes detailed discussion of sexual assault.

In “Hikaru Genji e” (Dear Hikaru Genji), published by Data House in 1988, Koji Kita, leader of all-male idol group Four Leaves, explained how he was forced to engage in sexual acts with Kitagawa, the founder and face of leading talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc.

At the time, some magazines were covering allegations of Kitagawa’s sexual abuse. But this book is believed to be the first time for a former member of a Johnny’s idol group to identify himself as a victim of Kitagawa.

It became a bestseller with 350,000 copies sold.

But the scandal eventually died down. And nothing was done to stop Kitagawa from continuing to sexually abuse boys.

Nobuhiro Motohashi, a 67-year-old writer, published a book in August last year titled, “Boku to Janiizu” (Me and Johnny’s), in which he revealed that he was the ghostwriter for “Hikaru Genji e.”

“It was my duty as a ghostwriter to reveal behind-the-scenes details of the long-standing taboo issue of Johnny Kitagawa’s sexual assaults,” he wrote.

3 foreign-born residents in Japan file suit over claims of racial profiling by police (The Mainichi, Jun Ida and Robert Sakai-Irvine)

The plaintiffs’ suit is seeking 3.3 million yen in damages.

Zain Syed, who came to Japan from Pakistan with his family when he was 8 and became a Japanese citizen at age 13, claims in the complaint that he has been questioned by police 15 times since moving to Nagoya as a teenager in 2016. In one incident in April 2023, he said that officers questioning him outside his home asked to see his foreign resident card, and searched his belongings when he informed them that he was a Japanese citizen. The officers allegedly never told Zain why he was being questioned.

“I understand it (police questioning) is extremely important for Japan’s public security,” Zain told a Jan. 29 press conference. However, his own frequent questioning made him suspect that people around him believed he might commit a crime because of his ‘foreign’ appearance. “I think there’s a very strong image that ‘foreigner’ equals ‘criminal,'” he said.

Fellow plaintiffs Maurice, a Black American, and Matthew, a South Pacific Islander of Indian descent, claim similar incidents of harassment when the officers involved did not give a clear legal reason for stopping them.

Maurice claims he has been questioned by police in public 16 or 17 times in the about 10 years he has lived in Japan. He told The Mainichi that it has “ramped up especially in the past five to six years.

Indie Side — Making A Genre-Twisting Visual Novel (Medium, Mira Lazine)

Interview with the writer of indie VN Com__et.

The game touches on experiences of homophobia and bigotry while presenting a powerful narrative about fate. How did you aim for this balance to affect the audience?

I think one thing I wanted to hit quite specifically was that it’s absolutely got homophobia and queerphobia broadly, but not in the kind of cartoonish way that sometimes comes across a person who is explicitly, loudly, or even violently opposed. Compared to the quieter or softer, for lack of a better word, for people who are just nudging in ways, or limiting your ability to make choices, insinuating that you couldn’t do certain things.

A lot of the family stuff talking about the main character and the childhood friend, just to be like well obviously this is what’s going to happen. At no point were they making it ‘is this what you want,’ ‘is this in the realm of what you want.’ It’s all very on-its-face themes, out of context or even in a snippet. You can kind of take it as ‘oh this isn’t that bad,’ but I wanted it to be like ‘no, this is bad,’ especially with a queer person. I think with the way I used the music and other queues to reinforce that no you shouldn’t be okay with this, even in this amount. This is still pushing people and limiting people in a way that is still bad, that is still this kind of queerphobia that doesn’t get shown as much. There’s other stories where they get into harsher, and more like directly threatening as opposed to the undercurrent that exists.

Sexy Tanaka-san, Sand Chronicles Manga Creator Hinako Ashihara Dies in Apparent Suicide (Anime News Network, Crystalyn Hodgkins)

The shoujo manga artist has been reported missing and a note was found.

On January 26, Ashihara had made a blog post regarding the live-action adaptation of her Sexy Tanaka-san manga. In the blog post, she stated she made it a condition that the live-action adaptation would be faithful to the manga, and said NTV did not uphold that condition. She said many scenes she held dear as the “core” of the manga were cut or not depicted properly, and characterizations were changed, and she was not given a satisfactory reason why. She said did voice her complaints, and the first seven episodes eventually remained largely faithful to the manga. Ashihara had said that throughout the entire production, she never met with the show’s scriptwriter and she did not talk directly with the director.

She added she ended up writing the scripts for the final two episodes of the series after the original scenario she outlined for the ending was “significantly” changed, but apologized that she had to rush the script as an amateur scriptwriter, and could not refine it further, as she was also working on deadlines for the manga. Ashihara explained that she and her staff had made it a condition from the outset that she could be allowed to write the scripts herself for the final episodes if she was not satisfied with them, adding NTV had agreed to this condition.

She ended the post by thanking all the cast and staff for making the live-action adaptation.

Ashihara later deleted the blog post, stating it was not her intention to attack anyone, and she apologized.

Following Japan quake, ex-police chief warns of false rumors about crimes by foreigners (The Mainichi, Jun Ida)

Similar rhetoric has cropped up in the wake of multiple disasters across the years.

There are also witness accounts of a right-wing group forming a self-proclaimed “disaster area public safety maintenance security team” in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, after apparently believing a derivative rumor that Chinese people were cutting the arms and fingers off corpses to steal precious metals. One member of the group told an online media outlet that they had equipped themselves with iron pipes and stun guns and were saying amongst themselves, “Talk to anyone who passes you by, and if they speak Chinese, kill them on the spot,” but they apparently never encountered any Chinese people.

Takeuchi stressed that as a member of the police and as a police chief, he “never heard of” any crimes like the corpse robberies described in the stories. He added, “It’s still unknown how many Koreans were killed by vigilante groups in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake, which marked its 100th anniversary last year. Some say it was a few percent of the 100,000 total deaths, but that’s still a significant number.”

During the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, National Police Agency officials were also aware that the spread of rumors would have adverse effects, according to Takeuchi. “Since it’s impossible to stop rumors from spreading, we tried to disseminate accurate information in the field.”

Kyoto Court Sentences Man to Death in Kyoto Animation Arson Case (Updated) (Anime News Network, Rafael Antonio Pineda)

The defense has filed an appeal as of Friday.

The Kyoto District Court handed down a guilty verdict on Thursday to Shinji Aoba, the suspect of the arson murder case that killed 36 people and wounded 32 others at Kyoto Animation, sentencing him to death.

The prosecutors for the case announced their intent to seek the death penalty for Aoba in December 2023, while the defense’s main argument focused on a reduced sentence or acquittal, arguing that Aoba was not in a sound mental state during his attack. Thursday’s trial focused on hearing arguments on this matter, but the judge deemed Aoba criminally liable.

The Kyoto District Court started the main trial for the arson murder case in September last year, with pre-trial proceedings starting in May 2023. The court had 32 total hearings.

Agency to look into abuse claims against Hitoshi Matsumoto (The Asahi Shimbun, Bunna Takizawa and Yusuke Miyata)

The company has not made any other official statements at this time.

Despite its previous denial, talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. has changed course and launched an internal investigation into sexual assault allegations against star comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto.

“Given articles stating that multiple women have endured mental distress at gatherings attended, although privately, by our comedians, we recognize it is a serious issue we must sincerely address,” the agency said in a statement issued on Jan. 24.

The major entertainment company is interviewing Matsumoto and other relevant individuals with the assistance of outside lawyers.

The Shukan Bunshun published an article last month in which two women accuse Matsumoto and his associates of sexually assaulting them in a Tokyo hotel room in 2015.

The weekly magazine has since released a series of reports alleging that Matsumoto sexually abused other women.

Matsumoto, 60, a member of the popular comedy duo Downtown, has suspended his career since the scandal broke, citing the need to focus on a legal battle against the magazine’s publisher.

It Happened To Me: I Was A Daily Video Game Blogger (Aftermath, Gita Jackson)

A good reminder that a job involving a subject you love is still work.

Kotaku was a machine so finely-tuned that if a single person needed to take a sick day, everyone else’s day would be much, much harder. We had unlimited paid time off, sure, but there was intense pressure to not use it. After going to E3, my boss thanked me for waiting a week to take my comp days off. I thought I owed him something to support the site, because the rest of my colleagues who went to E3 with me were taking a few days right after the conference ended. This was a foolish mistake, and one I won’t make again.

The days working at Kotaku were grueling enough, but the nights that were supposedly my free time were harder. There was just no end to the work—there is always a new game to play or community to investigate. When I felt passion for my work, playing a half hour slice of things that sounded interesting or cool was a joy. I still remember coming to work after playing Doki Doki Literature Club, buzzing with excitement over the opportunity to introduce our readers to a game that would shock and delight them. But passion is not a limitless resource, nor is it a replacement for reasonable working conditions. When the work felt like work—and it was a job after all—then playing video games always felt like doing more work at home.

Lyrics written by murder inmate, film to convey realities of child abuse at event near Tokyo (The Mainichi, Asako Kuroda)

The documentary can be watched in full at the link.

The event at the Nissai Chiiki Koryu Center in Sakado is intended to inform people about the difficulties faced by children and youths who have experienced abuse through a film screening, public talk and concert. It will be organized by “Oyako Ouen Network Smile,” a voluntary organization that operates a community cafeteria at the center every month, and co-sponsored by the city government.

The documentary film “Real Voice” depicts young people who were abused in childhood and live with deep emotional scars. It was directed by Masako Yamamoto, who herself was neglected and grew up in foster homes. The film features about 70 people from all over the country under the theme, “The impact of child abuse can last a lifetime.”

At the concert, singer-songwriter Ryota Matsui will perform “Sonzai shomei,” literally meaning proof of existence in Japanese. Its lyrics were written by an inmate who murdered and robbed his grandparents in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, in 2014 when he was 17 years old, and Matsui created the music.

AniFem Community

It’s a smaller pool than series, but there were still some quality picks.

New Films I Watched Last Year:here's the short list, with an asterisk by the favorite. Idolish7 Beyond the Period, Sasaki and Miyano Graduation, The Boy and the Heron*.  Older Films I Watched Last Year: longer, but same deal with asterisks! Cowboy Bebop Knocking on Heaven's Door, Backflip, Laid Back Camp, xxxholic Midsummer's Night Dream, Genius Party Beyond, Josee the Tiger and the Fish*, Kaguya-sama First Kiss Never Ends, Memories, Non Non Biyori Vacation, Suzume*, Maquia the Promised Flower, Belle, Violet Evergarden, The Stranger By the Shore.
I didn't watch a lot anime movies in 2023, but I have the opportunity to watch Inu-Oh which actually is a 2022 movie rather than 2023 movie. I really love it, it was such an experience and the music are just incredible. It doesn't do a lot thematically speaking, but it still brought out some important themes like artistic freedom, rebellion and retelling of history, gender performance, disability and otherness, and how political means and imperialism erasing arts and artists. I want to see someone write about the disability element of Inu-Oh here at anifem because I think there is a complicated thing happening surrounding It in the movie and I still can wrap my head around it. Overall, it was an excellent movie, it such an experience for me to watch it, and it was a great companion piece for Heike Story.

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