Weekly Round-Up, 24-30 March 2021: Nagabe Interview, Gendered Activism Issues, and Otherside Picnic

By: Anime Feminist March 30, 20210 Comments
three giant spiders, two wearing hats, making shocked expressions

AniFem Round-Up

Chatty AF 136: Angelic Layer Watchalong – Episodes 1-7

Caitlin, Dee, and Mercedez check out the 2001 adaptation of CLAMP’s battle shounen series.

Koikimo – Episode 1

Spring kicks off with an alleged comedy about a grown man stalking a teenage girl.


A dazzling dark action show that throws some truly weird shit at the wall right out of the gate.

What was your favorite Winter 2021 anime?

Spring is nipping at our heels, but Winter’s not over yet.

Beyond AniFem

Women’s History Month: Akiko Higashimura by Carrie McClain (Comfort Food Comics, Carrie McClain)

A celebration of Higashimura’s work.

In an interview with Kodansha after the release of volume two of the manga translated in English, Higashimaru answered the question of how she came up with the story:  “I loved shojo manga since I was little. So when I started to get serious about making my own shojo manga, I put together all the aspects that I loved, like the theme of boy meets girl, “gap-moe” (being in love with unexpected side of a person,) and friendship between girls.”

It is a series that is great to introduce to new readers of manga and is a manga with a terrific translation. Princess Jellyfish is one of my favorite reminders in comics of young women with agency, fighting like hell with all the shojo beats in line. It is very much coming of age in the shojo way with the blossoming of 18 year old Tsukimi and the transformation one has to become the person you need to be to protect who and what is important to you. There’s the simple grand importance of female companionship and accepting who you are–even if you are a little, or a whole lot of weird. This is comforting–as the girls never truly have to change who they are as their worlds open up and get bigger as the narrative continues and they are befriended by more people. One of the biggest messages that I took away from reading was that girls (and women) can be whatever the hell they want to be. A princess? Sure. A collector of model trains? Yep. Someone who finds love and family? That too. A confident woman who is also a fujoshi? Reach for the stars, my friend! You can achieve that too!

Otherside Picnic and Groundbreakingly Goofy Queer Fiction (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)

In praise of the anime being remarkably unremarkable.

But also, along the way, I realised that the changes in tone and pacing weren’t just rubbing me the wrong way because they mishandled some cool material from the books. They were rubbing me the wrong way because they were making it goofy, schlocky, silly, in a way that made something in my brain rebel. No! This is supposed to be a deep psychological thriller that gets to the heart of human fear! This is supposed to be a dynamic and surreal piece of queer art! How am I supposed to put this on a pedestal as an example of the amazing things yuri can do if it’s… a dumb fun action show?!

And lo, there was my problem. As well as conveniently forgetting that the novels are also frequently very funny and downright silly, I had, unconsciously, been needing this show to be some sort of paragon of queer television. Because it was a rarity, a “first” of its kind in many ways, I needed it to be good. No, I needed it to be fantastic—groundbreaking, heartfelt, stunning, all-encapsulating. If it was going to be weird, it needed to be weird in a distinctly artsy, cerebral, Ikuhara kind of way. It needed to be Art. Otherwise that would reflect badly on my tastes, wouldn’t it, and on the field of queer fiction in general?

A gamer’s guide to being a boss-level Asian (when your family is white) (SBS, Ellie Freeman)

The author frames connecting to her ethnic heritage as the Korean child of a white family in gamified terms.

Later on, I decided to live in Korea for a year to get to know my birth family better.

There, I rapidly rose through the ranks of Asianness. I racked up points for riding the Seoul subway; for learning how to read Hangeul; and awkwardly (but successfully) ordering noodles in Korean. I also genuinely started to enjoy K-pop. In 2014, I celebrated Lunar New Year (Seollal in Korea) and for the first time, and I bowed at my relatives and received money envelopes. Best of all, I could walk through the city without a stranger marching up to me to demand, “Where are you from?”

But there were bad days, too. Someone might laugh at my bad Korean. (Lose 50 points) I have sensory processing issues with cooked seafood and can’t eat it, ruling out a vast swathe of Asian food. (Lose 20 points) I’d forget to take off my shoes inside. (Lose 10 points) My birth mother didn’t understand why I was struggling to eat kimchi and live octopus for breakfast, and required coffee to function. (Lose 20 points)

These days, I realised measuring my Asianness isn’t only detrimental to me, but to other Asians too. Our narrow understanding of who’s counted as ‘Asian’ often ignores mixed-race Asians, South, South-East and Central Asians; Asians with parents who thought their only chance of survival in a new Western country was to shed their culture; Asians isolated in rural areas with limited resources, simply trying to get by; Asians battling their own race trauma; Asians who don’t fit the mold because they’re LGBT+, have disabilities, have illnesses, poor — and, of course, other Asian adoptees.

Born “Illegal” in Japan (NHK World-Japan)

Short video report on the discrimination faced by undocumented families and their children.

Hundreds of children in Japan are living in a kind of limbo, unable to acquire any status of residence in the only country they’ve ever known. Born to undocumented foreign nationals, they face the fear of deportation and often the pain of long-term separation from a parent detained at an immigration facility.

Dozens of groups seek more female justices on Supreme Court (The Asahi Shimbun, Sawa Okabayashi, Satoko Tanaka and Shunsuke Abe)

Four justices are nearing retirement and of the 15 currently sitting, only two are women.

In early March, the group petitioned bodies that have a say in the candidate selection process, including the Supreme Court, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the Cabinet Secretariat. It called for replacing the outgoing justices with women so that females will account for one-third of the justices.

“Male-centered norms die hard in judicial authorities,” Mutsuko Asakura, co-head of OP CEDAW Action, told a news conference on March 15. “We expect Japanese courts to make decisions more accommodating toward women’s rights.”

The coalition, which is calling on the government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (OP CEDAW), consists of 56 groups. An additional 36 groups put their names on the written request.

INTERVIEW: The Creators of The Ancient Magus’ Bride and The Girl From the Other Side (Crunchyroll, Tetsuko Kumase)

Long interview with the two manga artists about their process and ethos.

── Now, can you talk about what you both find to be attractive about the “Beast x Girl,” which is a common concept in both of your works?
Nagabe: It’s not just about girls but more so about humans, but I think I’m into cross-culturalism. Different races have different cultures, languages, and maybe even different body structures. The two characters have great differences and that brings out interesting gaps and interactions which creates a good drama. It’s also nice when they see each other’s similarities and go “oh, that’s the part we have in common”.  I especially like it when there are differences that are incompatible. For example, whether cannibalism is acceptable or not. The fact that taboos in the human world are practiced without hesitation in the non-human world creates clear divisions. Seeing how they deal with these negative differences is the best part and what makes this theme attractive to me.

Yamazaki: The concept of non-human exists because there are humans. I am personally attracted to things that are distant from humans in appearance and sensibility. I love non-humans who don’t speak human languages, but I also have to balance my work for consumer products. In The Ancient Magus’ Bride, I used fairytales from Britain and Ireland as references, so they all speak human languages fluently. Their sensibilities and appearance are quite human-like except for their rules. It’s probably because humans wouldn’t be able to understand them otherwise, and they can be very different from your ideas of non-humans. However, they are very rigid about certain rules they have, so I have to be careful drawing those concepts clearly. It’s quite difficult to decide how much of the original folktales and fairytales I include in my creation. If I put too much just because it’s interesting, the originality in my work will disappear. This is something I have to be careful not to overlook.

VIDEO: Ten Black women and femme artists to follow.

TWEET: Podcast discussion of Ghost of Tsushima in relation to other pro-imperialist games like Call of Duty.

TWEET: YouTube panel about gendered disaster activism in the decade since 3/11.

TWEET: Register for a free talk on 3/31 about women in the Postwar Japanese Student Movement.

AniFem Community

A lot went weird this season, but it was still a good one.

Waiting to see how Wonder Egg and SK8 turn out. Egg could easily fall flat without a miracle to tie up what the show has become. SK8 is going to as fun and as radical as it has always been, and might end up being my favorite "new" show from the season. It's the perfect amount of delightful anime tropes with a polished execution.

Re:Zero, Dr. Stone, and Jujutsu Kaisen were all front of the pack at different points in the season and its difficult to choose a winner out of such an impressively consistent and awesome lineup of anime. Even Mushoku Tensei turned out to be really sincere and suspenseful toward the end.

TPN Season 2 seems like the go-to Answer for disappointments, but I honestly have to give that one to Attack on Titan. My expectations for the final season were on the floor, and it still managed to dig its way underneath them. I honestly just want it to be over.
It's difficult to pick a clear winner, though there've been some memorable productions. That said, if I had to go with just one, it'd have to be Yuru Camp s2 - the sheer quiet delight of the sights they visit is so lovingly produced, their love of camping simply shines through. It's as undramatic as can be, brimming with warmth and friendship, and only very occasional evil sibling trolling. And oh, the food..

Beyond that:

Otherside Picnic clearly has a lot more to tell, and the source material's there; I'd love to see at least a second season.

Wonder Egg Priority began strikingly well, but I've become uncomfortable with the sudden need to begin spinning yet more plot plates, and how the newest developments may undermine its core conceit. Hopefully the rumors of there indeed being two episodes left, not just one, will be proven correct - landing it all in just one final episode feels like a gargantuan task. It very much doesn't feel like a 12/13-episode story at this point.

Horimiya I've mostly enjoyed, though I suspect the rapid pace of the adaptation has led to losing me somewhat, with everyone's relationships evolving so quickly, versus the likely more "natural" feel of the manga's progression. The blooming of the cast from just the central two didn't help; I found it far easier to be emotionally invested in their joy early on, where by ep.9, it's involving so many.

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