Weekly Round-Up, 27 December 2023 – 2 January 2024: Year-End Lists, Yoko Taro Letter, and A Sign of Affection

By: Anime Feminist January 2, 20240 Comments
a small girl surrounded by fuzzy forest animals

AniFem Round-Up

Fushigi Yugi: Adolescence Apotheosis

This is early 90s isekai is big, messy, and heartfelt; a powerful snapshot by a young author that captures the anxieties and strengths of teenage girls growing up.

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

An argument in favor of Rebellion’s polarizing ending as one that shatters an unacceptable paradigm and resonates with real-world fights for systemic change.

Do you have any 2024 anime backlog resolutions?

No pressure or anything.

Beyond AniFem

The Beginner’s Primer to the ‘A Sign of Affection’ Anime Coming January 2024 (Black Nerd Problems, Carrie McClain)

Basic info about the series, its creators, and where you can check out the manga.

A Sign of Affection is full of real-life details about Japanese sign language and living without hearing. I love that audiences will get to see how creative Yuki is in how she communicates to others and the challenges she faces. To me, the core of this series is the value and importance of communication. There are a few languages spoken in the original work through Itsuomi: he’s a polygot, of course. There’s Japanese, the language both he and Yuki speak. There’s Japanese sign language that Yuki knows, and slowly teaches the young man who enters her life one snowy day.

Yuki communicates mostly through Japanese sign language, and Itsuomi jumps at the chance to start learning how to sign to not only be able to speak with her and to, eventually, show how much he adores her. A Sign of Affection has such coming-of-age vibes in a series about communication and the pursuit of finding the words, the signs–to show the person you adore most–that you care for them. Simply put, A Sign of Affection illustrates that connection is important and trying to understand others is the key. A Sign of Affection defines what modern day Shojo is in my books and this adaptation will be watched day one it airs!

Gundam: Witch From Mercury Director Makes It Clear: They’re Wives, Your Honor (Gizmodo, James Whitbrook)

Because seriously, come on now.

Kobayashi’s comments, discussing the creation of the epilogue to the show’s final episode (via Automaton Media) explicitly describes that the events between the conclusion of the series and the epilogue see Suletta and Miorine wed each other. “I knew I was going to make an epilogue, but it was a while before I decided upon the exact number of years that should pass in-between,” Kobayashi says. “The ending itself follows [the Shakespeare play] The Tempest, and depicts Suletta and Miorine getting married and becoming partners.”

Once again, it has to be said that this is very clear in the actual episode itself, and not a potential interpretation of subtext. In the epilogue, Miorine is directly referred to as a sister-in-law by Suletta’s sister, Eri, and when Suletta and Miorine reunite in the final moments of the scene, shining silver bands on their respective ring fingers are highlighted with a glimmering sheen to bring them to the audience’s attention. They are intimate and close to each other in their presence, discuss their future together, and conclude the series by going to their home together. It takes an awful lot of bad faith to misconstrue the intent of the scene.

And yet, that’s what makes Kobayashi’s comment, in an officially released piece of merchandise, so important—because Sunrise (née Bandai Namco Filmworks) owners Bandai previously tried to misconstrue that intent. A comment during an interview in the July 2023 issue of Gundam Ace from Suletta’s voice actress, Kana Ichinose, where she referred to Suletta and Miorine as married, was removed from later print runs and a digital transcription of the interview after release at Bandai’s request. At the time, the company described the language used as “based on the speculation of the Gundam Ace editor” rather than an endorsement of the series’ own text.

Nier Automata’s Yoko Taro speaks out on crises in Gaza and Ukraine: “Looking back at 2023, the world was too cruel” (Games Radar, Kaan Serin)

This article cribs some quotes from two different translations of the letter.

“Looking back at 2023, the world was too cruel, wasn’t it? The war in Ukraine hasn’t even ended, and a new war is starting in Gaza,” Taro writes in a statement published on 4Gamer, translated using machine learning. “According to UNICEF, more than 5,300 children died in 46 days.”

According to Gosokkyu’s more complete translation on co-host, the famed director mentioned feeling utterly useless when thinking back on these statistics, but in those dreary moments, he recalls a story from his youth when his friend would share advice about wooing girls. Essentially, his friend would say it’s a numbers game. If the success rate of asking someone out is 1% – you simply need to do it 100 times. 

In a pragmatic turn, Taro then tries to reframe those feelings of powerlessness into a similar probability game, calling on all readers to think about ways to address the ongoing crises – at least for a minute. Should thousands of people all commit some effort to ending the senseless violence, then Taro hopes these conflicts could come to an end. “If there are 100 people, that’s 100 minutes. If there are 1,000 people, that’s 1,000 minutes,” Taro says. “Someone might come up with an idea. That’s what I was thinking about today.”

Disabled people seek accessible Nagoya Castle to be enjoyed by all (The Asahi Shimbun, Tomomi Terasawa)

The article includes replications of ableist hate messages sent to protestors.

To make it a tourist attraction, the castle needs to meet modern earthquake and fire standards, which require technologies that were unavailable when the original castle was built in the 17th century.

In addition, with or without an elevator, the original designs of the castle will inevitably need to be altered to accommodate emergency exits and other regulatory requirements.

“It’s an illusion to believe that you can reconstruct a truly ‘authentic’ Nagoya Castle,” said Yoshihiro Senda, a professor of castle archeology at Nagoya City University.

Senda criticizes the mayor’s apparent double standard about what constitutes a historically “authentic” building.

“Why can modern technologies be used to make the castle tourist-friendly but not to make it accessible to all?” Senda said. 

The Cultural Affairs Agency said a reconstructed Nagoya Castle would be considered a replica rather than a cultural treasure, even if it is rebuilt exactly to the original design specifications. 

It will be classified as a public facility, like a history museum that serves the purpose of promoting culture and tourism, said the agency.

‘I want to kiss you’: Sexual harassment of female entrepreneurs rife in Japan (The Mainichi, Daisuke Oka)

Respondents also noted stress from the number of meetings frequently being held at informal outings where drinking is expected.

One female business owner said she received email messages on her phone several times from a representative of a venture capital firm from which she was seeking funding, including one saying, “I want to kiss you.”

Another entrepreneur who met with investors and business partners was asked out. “Next time let’s go out for dinner, just us,” the person suggested.

“I really can’t understand why we can’t just have a meeting at the office. At the same time, I’m afraid that if I turn down the dinners, they’ll think, ‘She doesn’t seem to be into this,'” she said. Responding to this type of harassment continues to wear on her nerves.

Businesses that provide support for entrepreneurs get requests for help from female business owners daily. Many of these are about how to handle dinner meetings.

“It’s hard to turn down a call from an older man with power in the industry. And there are many women who are afraid. There are quite a few women who despair over the industry, which is rife with sexual harassment, and give up, thinking, ‘I’m not cut out for this,'” an official from one support business said.

This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2023 (Critical Distance, Kaile Hultner)

Round-up of some of the best game-related articles of the past year.

This year also saw numerous examples of games and the world intermingling in messy and complicated ways. Multiple film and television adaptations of popular games hit screens, from The Super Mario Bros. Movie to The Last of Us, giving critics cause to question the presence of these works in relation to their ludic predecessors. Prominent game developers spoke out on issues ranging from established genres and their knock-on effects to development sustainability and investor reluctance to greenlight new projects. We watched the last of the major mergers-and-acquisitions from 2021 and 2022, Microsoft’s absorption of Activision-Blizzard, finalize despite government pushback. Game developers around the world continued the years-long push to unionize the industry, with some successes and some setbacks.

The industry also once again found itself having to contend with social issues around colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, and most notably, a rapidly-unfolding genocide in Gaza. If the silence on any of these issues, especially at prominent fall and winter industry events like the Golden Joysticks and the Game Awards, is any indication, that response has been sorely lacking, to say the least.

Okazu Top Yuri Series of 2023 (Okazu)

Top picks from the site’s staff.

The criteria I provided was pretty loose – it had to have come out this year, was all I asked, so some folks picked individual volumes, other whole series. Some ordered them, others didn’t, so don’t think it’s just lazy editing (which, yes, it is, it’s been a long year and I am exhausted) it was also just because this all amazing stuff and who cares about lists, really! We all win today. ^_^

Although these are all incredible works, there are a good dozen that could have been included here that we didn’t get to, because 2023 was just like that for Yuri.  If you don’t see your favorite series on these lists, or just want to join in, feel free to add your Top Yuri of the year in the comments. I look forward to reading those. ^_^  Author and publisher will be listed with the first appearance of any given title. Wherever they can, title links will lead to the Yuricon Store, so you can run out and purchase yourself some great Yuri!

Former reporter traces how famous Ainu portraits wound up in France (The Mainichi)

The general guess in these situations is “a European person stole them.”

The most likely candidate, Kato says, is Eugene-Emmanuel Mermet-Cachon, a French missionary who lived in Hakodate.

Although there is no conclusive evidence, it is believed that the paintings were a gift to Mermet-Cachon from the Hakodate Magistrate’s Office, and they entrusted to a missionary from Besancon, who passed them on to his brother, a curator at the museum.

Kato first learned of the paintings in 1984, when he was a reporter for the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper, and the art work featured on its front page. In 1987, Kato had the opportunity to see the paintings in person, even though they were not on public display, and was struck by their fine detail and vivid colors.

After becoming the paper’s Paris correspondent in 1994, Kato eagerly interviewed art curators and descendants of military personnel, hoping to find clues, but was unable to solve the mystery.

Even after retiring in 2021, Kato remains unfulfilled and continues to interview curators while also giving lectures at French language schools.

Romance Visual Novels with Black Heroines (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

A round-up of four titles meeting the titular criteria.

Happy Monday and Happy New Year! Let’s kick off 2024 with some melanin friendly games! As a Black woman and a gamer, I love seeing characters that look like me in the games I play. But, a lot of the time, finding representation in games can be a daunting task. The indie scene has helped fill the gap. The rise of the “amare” genre has created even more opportunities for diverse romance stories and characters. Things have definitely gotten better over the years, but you still have to do a lot of digging to find games led by Black heroines.

So, I wanted to compile a list of romance visual novels I’ve played where you play as a Black heroine. I purposefully left out games with character customizers (I’ll save that for another day) and just focused on games that follow a Black heroine.

VIDEO: A sibling-team year-end round-up of anime discussion.

AniFem Community

Let’s all check at least one item off our lists together this year, AniFam.

I've had a personal MS Word document for a few years now, where I add all sorts of interesting anime/manga titles + short plot descriptions for them. Recently, I watched Blue Period, so next time I open that file, I can cross out that part and add my final thoughts on the series below that entry =D.  Currently though, I'm prioritizing my physical backlog of anime VHS tapes I've collected over the years. Mainly because there's a convention at the end of the month, where I can resell them forwards at the con's flea market and thus get my money back from 'em. I already watched first volume of Maple Story (a cute show with anthropomorphic animals), volume 2 of The Legend of Snow White and currently, I'm at vol. 5 of Candy Candy i. e. the shojo classic from the 70's.  The common problem with these ancient Finnish VHS tapes however, is the lack of dub voice actors. Maple Story, thankfully, has enough different voice actors that it doesn't feel like the whole town is voiced by just ONE man and ONE woman... which was exactly the case with Snow White. More than 10 different voice roles in the span of 55 minutes, voiced by just those two... it was tragicomic. Especially when the same dwarf's voice changed from male to female WITHIN the same 13 second scene 😂. Candy Candy started promisingly; vol 1. had total of six voice actors. But somewhere between that and the next VHS that I have (vol 5), they reduced the amount of voice actors by half. This doesn't make the series unwatchable, but it sure as heck reduces my immersion.  Overall, my plans for 2024 is to reduce the amount of physical (anime) media clogging my storage space. As such, I'll try to prioritize those VHS tapes and DVDs over anything else, although I'm still keeping up with Frieren and The apothecary diaries.Thankfully, those two were on a break last week, which allowed me to focus more on my physical backlog instead.
I managed to knock a good number of shows off of my backlog, from older anime (Monster and The Big O) to more recent fare (The Heike Story, Bocchi the Rock, The Executioner and Her Way of Life, Dororo, Lycoris Recoil, and Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid), as well as the films Redline and Memories. I haven't added anything I missed from 2023 just yet, but even so I still have a few different shows left on my backlog: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Dirty Pair, Nichijou, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and I also want to check out more Gundam after getting my first exposure with The Witch From Mercury.
Need to get caught up on Spy x Family and MAKE THIS THE YEAR I FINALLY WATCH SAMURAI FLAMENCO
My next couple are Heartcatch Precure and Gankutsuou. Also, process my complicated feelings about Maison Ikkoku as I finish that.

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