Weekly Round-Up, 26 August – 1 September 2020: Nonbinary Monk/Makeup Artist, Masculinity in Yakuza, and Gender in Land of the Lustrous

By: Anime Feminist September 1, 20200 Comments
a man with puprle dreads and a union suit posing casually mid-dive into a pool while two women in the background look on, bemused

AniFem Round-Up

The Devils in the Details: The grotesquely charming world of Hayashida Q

Kirsten Doroff looks at the author best known for Dorohedoro and the undercurrent of playfulness in her horror oeuvre.

Tower of God’s Rachel Problem: Fandom, female antagonists, and the risks of overly vague writing

Olive St. Sauvier analyzes Rachel’s character arc and why “we’ll explain eventually” doesn’t cut it for a story that’s been running for over 10 years.

Chatty AF 123: Glass Mask Watchalong – Episodes 12-17

Part three of the 80s shoujo classic finally sees the rivals performing on stage together.

 Healin’ Good Pretty Cure – Episode 1

With PreCure legally streaming for the first time, it was time to check out the newest series.

Who’s your favorite anime animal?

We’re talking pets, mascots, and other cuddly creatures.

Beyond AniFem

Genderqueerness Beyond Representation in Land of the Lustrous (What the Hell is a Schrodingr?, Matt Von Gonten)

An anime-only analysis of how gender presentation is explored throughout the series and its themes.

I have to stress at this point that none of these three peoples represent a complete argument for the human experience and, if taken on their own and applied one-to-one to actual modern humanity, any one of these perspectives will leave a lot of people out. When speculating about the Lunarians’ aims, Phos suggests that they may be capturing Admirabilis and Lustrous to try to become complete humans again, and whether or not that’s their actual aim, thematically the statement does its job of reminding the audience that no one character or people should be taken as a prescription for how to build an inclusive gender-defying society. Inclusiveness can’t be built around a single experience that everyone is expected to share or a single solution that will make everyone happy.

Conversely, Ventricosus goes on to say that the Admirabilis have their own ways that are worth holding on to. The Admirabilis or Lustrous alone may not paint a complete picture of all of humanity, but they can still strike a powerful chord with some individual humans. Some of us will relate to the shapeshifting sea slug who feels more herself the more she “transitions” to her ideal form, others may find the idea of needing the “correct” body to be our best selves insulting, and these are both valid perspectives drawn from very real human experiences. Phos suggests that the Lustrous and Admirabilis should work together, different groups with different experiences standing in solidarity to fight off the remnants of the cisheteronormative patriarchy. That’s a message I can get behind even if it doesn’t come to pass, because again, Land of the Lustrous is a bit of a tragedy.

Authentic Voice Acting Is More Than Skin Deep (Uppercut, Yussef Cole)

Examining how the casting of white actors to play characters of color is symptomatic of white power structures in creative teams.

Tokenism in media, while a longstanding and time-honored tradition, still manages to produce some surprisingly awkward decisions. In late 2019, months before the upheaval of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests, the game developer Chucklefish received backlash after it released a tweet introducing new characters for its game, Wargroove, with optics so problematic that they quickly outshone the content of the announcement. Though three out of four of the characters being announced were clearly people of color, all were voiced by white actors, who’s headshots were proudly presented in the tweet alongside their much darker hued avatars. Chucklefish, in a subsequent apology statement, explained that this was partially a result of using blind casting to cast these voice actors, a popular method that has obvious drawbacks when it comes to authentically casting actors of color. In a separate thread on the subject, casting director Kimlin Tranh mentioned that she was told the group these characters were a part of, “The Outlaws,” all had to have Scottish accents. She admits –with hindsight– that “ … there should’ve been less of an emphasis on the authenticity of the Scottish accent and more on the authenticity of the characters represented,” and tells The Verge “I think we lost track of what really needed to be represented.” 

This case is a good example of the limitations of tokenism, of diversity without depth. Though the developers wanted diversity in their game, they didn’t stop to consider the pressure that enforcing an accent associated with a majority white country like Scotland might place on the casting process. Even with supposedly good intentions, arbitrary creative decisions demanded that actors of color be filtered through an unwieldy and unrealistic casting process. They want us for how we appear, but not as we truly are.

Aggretsuko’s Heavy Metal World Gets Dark (Anime News Network, Monique Thomas & Steve Jones)

A discussion of the Netflix show’s third season.

Nicky: There’s a really big difference between being profitable and being livable, after all, it takes a long time for her to even get to the point being able to pay off her debt on her own. So instead Retsuko has to put on this kind of intense juggling act where she is clearly under a lot of pressure all the time because she can’t balance between her job and her hobby on top of being in said debt. Many of her friends can sense that she is struggling but she refuses to go to seek out help on her own out of fear of being a burden.

Steve: It’s all rough, relatable stuff, and Aggretsuko doesn’t really propose an answer beyond “we all gotta compromise ourselves and ideals to some extent if we’re gonna survive.” It’s not a satisfying answer, but I also don’t expect a cartoon about a talking red panda to solve thousands of years of human society and inequity. And at the very least, the show knows how to wallow in despair while still being funny. Like Gori lounging in her cool new place while extolling the bone chilling size of her mortgage.

Episode 43: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (2020) (But Why Tho?, LeNeysha Campbell)

Podcast discussion of the live-action adaptation of the rom-com manga.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku’s live-action film’s focus is on the ways geeks being able to get together by accepting each other’s hobbies and letting them be who they are gets lost in live-action translation. Directed by Yuichi Fukuda, fans of the existing material get to watch Nifuji Hirotaka (Kento Yamazaki) and Narumi Momose’s (Mitsuki Takahata) romance again, while new audiences get the chance to experience them for the first time. And it all has a musical twist and new original moments.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, here it is. Narumi is starting a new job and doing everything she can to hide the fact she is an otaku, after dealing with a break-up because of it. But one of her new colleagues, Nifuji, is a childhood friend who knows all about her passion for yaoi (called BL by fans), and other anime and manga. The nearly two-hour film focuses on Narumi and Nifuji’s romance, their first dates, and the constant miscommunication between them.

‘As long as you’re comfortable and happy, your cosplay is perfect!’ : Interview With ColdIndulgentRevenge (Black Nerd Problems, Oona Sura)

A short cosplayer interview.

BNP: What initially drew you towards the cosplay community? How does it stoke your creative juices?

CIR: In the early years of DeviantArt and before I really even knew what cosplay was, I followed cosplayers like VampyBitMe, Hollitaima, Jessica Nigri, Yaya Han, and thought they were all really cool! Seeing them make their own costumes inspired me to try my hand at it once I acquired my own machine. When I became more stable financially, I started buying cosplays to spare myself time and consistency. These days, I’ll see a character I want to cosplay and build a shopping list for them on Amazon. More recently, I’ll purchase the costume outright on Miccostumes or DAZCOS. Sometimes, I’ll get lucky and find everything I need in my closet!

The most important thing I learned from this transition is that you don’t need to sew or make every little thing to feel accomplished. As long as you’re comfortable and happy in your costume, your cosplay is perfect!

Ep 90: Maison Ikkoku with Jenn (The Anime Nostalgia Podcast)

Discussion of the long-awaited rerelease of the 1980s manga.

Next month, Rumiko Takahashi’s beloved romantic comedy manga Maison Ikkoku will finally return to print in English! So what better way to celebrate one of my absolute favorite manga with an extra-long episode all about this heartwarming series?! And joining me is a brand-new guest to the show: comic & zine artist and fellow Maison Ikkoku lover, Jenn Woodall! Come listen as we give an overview of the manga, why this series is still so timeless, and why the residents of Ikkoku continue to live rent-free in our hearts forever! 

Yakuza examines masculinity with care, but leaves women behind (Polygon, Sam Greszes)

While the series is nuanced in creating a compassionate masculinity, its female characters, while well-developed, lack agency.

It’s impossible to fully determine whether this is because the games themselves are making a subversive point about sexism in Japan, or whether that’s an overly charitable reading of a game franchise that has consistently struggled to give its female characters agency. The fact that the Yakuzaseries views masculinity with such a subversive, empathetic tone makes its failings with regard to its female characters seem worse in contrast, even if those failings are far from unique in gaming at large. Kiryu seems to treat women with more respect than the game itself does; he respects sex workers, and he never harasses hostesses. While the game’s storylines may deny its female characters agency, Kiryu encourages women to fight back against sexism, break out of abusive relationships, and strive for self-determination in any way they can. There’s also evidence that the folks who work on these games have their hearts in the right place, despite past missteps.

Japan monk and makeup artist empowering sexual minorities, celebrating diversity’s beauty (The Mainichi, Fujisawa Miyuki)

Nonbinary monk Nishimura Kodo recently wrote a book about their experiences as a monk and a makeup artist.

As the monk profession is a family business, Nishimura underwent training at age 24. Nishimura was initially told that monks were not allowed to wear accessories, and brooded over whether it was alright to become a monk while often putting on makeup and accessories. Additionally, Nishimura was also worried about differences in ritual codes depending on gender, such as men putting out their left foot first and women their right when stepping over incense burners. A senior monk told Nishimura at the time that “appearances and ritual manners are not the essence of teachings,” and Nishimura felt saved by those words.

Nishimura has also come to realize that while identifying as gay until their early 20s, they now feel that they do not fit this category if it refers to those who identify as male and are attracted to men. Nishimura feels neither male nor female, and does not feel the concepts belong to a category that suits them precisely. They have come to realize that “People’s sexual identifications must all be that diverse.”

VIDEO: Interview with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure voice actor Bill Butts.

TWEET: Video statement in support of Black Lives Matter from Toonami.

AniFem Community

There is not room in this section to contain all the cuteness this question prompted.

Despite my profile picture, I'm a total cat lover. And thus my favorite anime animal is Haru from My Roommate is a Cat.  I've helped my family rescue and provide homes to stray cats in my childhood and teen years. And we also owned a few of them as well. So seeing Haru as an abandoned, hungry stray learning to trust humans in an alien environment resonated with me for that reason.
Generally I am a Cat person, but there is one Anime Dog that really stands out for me and that is Fuji, the Yakuza dog from Gokusen

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