Weekly Round-Up, 27 January – 2 February 2021: Bigotry at Toei, INKR Translator Rates, and Building Better Cyberpunk

By: Anime Feminist February 2, 20210 Comments
three individuals from Ex-Arm driving in a car, all of it poorly rendered

AniFem Round-Up

The Queer Blood Ties of Vampire Princess Miyu

Camellia James on the franchise’s mixture of Western vampires and Japanese mythology, and its unique take on the queer elements of vampire lore.

2021 Winter Three-Episode Check-In

The team checks in on the current season a quarter of the way in.

Chatty AF 133: Akudama Drive Retrospective

Chiaki, Mercedez, and Vrai talk about the cyberpunk sleeper hit of last season.

What second season of an anime did you like better than the first?

Sometimes you need that first run of episodes to warm up.

Beyond AniFem

Toei Animation Refuses Labor Negotiations With LGBT Union Member (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

The x-gender individual (B-san), who was arguing on behalf of a union director (A-san), used their preferred name on paperwork rather than their legal name, at which point Toei accused them of using a false name.

The Precariat Union made contact with Toei three times for collective bargaining. The first three interactions were performed through online conferencing due to COVID-19. For the fourth meeting, they did not receive the online conferencing link. After phoning the studio beforehand, B-san went to the building to meet with the lawyer and the people handling the case directly. When they arrived, the lawyer allegedly spoke to them aggressively and used a security guard to chase them out. After this, the company continued text correspondence for some time without coming to an agreement, before eventually sending the letter rejecting and deadnaming B-san.

A-san, who claims to have been subjected to power harassment in their seven years working at the company, also remarked with dismay. “The company’s attitude was already clearly unfair and cruel, but I can’t believe that they would go this far. I didn’t think that they would say such a thing.”

A-san claims to have been dismissed as a unit director after an altercation with an animation director. According to them, Toei had a culture of overwork, and they had even been told by senior staffers to “use animation directors like worker bees.” The animation director was frustrated at an instruction that A-san had issued, prompting them to angrily berate A-san in the staff room.

Although A-san managed to reach a compromise with the animation director at the time, a few days later, they were told that they would be dropped as a unit director while the animation director would stay on. They were also continuously shuffled around at jobs so that they would feel pressured to quit. In addition, their contract was changed from unit director to assistant unit director.

A-san attempted to consult with the Toei Animation labor union, but felt that the union had ties with the company that were too strong, which made discussions go nowhere. A-san was transferred to a separate building from the main studio and demoted even further to clerical work. “It was a stereotypical oidashibeya,” they said, using the colloquial term for a room where employees are sent to do pointless and menial tasks so that they quit on their own accord.

Who Actually Gets to “Escape” Into Fandom? (Teen Vogue, Stitch)

How the prevalence of racism in fandom spaces makes them hostile to fans of color.

In 2019, Dr. Rukmini Pande did an interview with Henry Jenkins about her book Squee From The Margins: Fandom and Race. “I found that while it is certainly possible for fans of color to ‘pass’ within online fan spaces, their modes of escapism are mostly contingent – I can enjoy a source or fan text until it gets racist,” Pande said in the interview. “Other fans articulated the importance of finding networks of fellow non-white fans so that they could curate their experiences to be safer. In all cases, fandom certainly isn’t a space where these fans can escape from race/racism even if it is not something that is engaged with publicly or vocally.”

It makes sense that people would resort to fandom escapism following natural disasters, or to have something to do other than overthink their local government’s COVID-19 response. But what about the times we’ve seen people talk about fandom being their “safe space” from them dealing with or seeing viral video recordings of Black people being killed, as we saw in the summer of 2020? What about people in the U.S. delving into fandom so they don’t have to think about American politics?

No matter the fandom, fans of color can’t reliably escape into fandom, because people don’t stop being racist just because they like the same things that people of color do. There’s always a racist person in fandom. There are always racist fanworks. There are always racist creators. There’s always racism in the source material that people will defend in your mentions for days.

The cyberpunk genre has been Orientalist for decades — but it doesn’t have to be (Polygon, Kazuma Hashimoto)

Orientalism in big-budget cyberpunk and the indie games that have pushed back against it.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are pieces of modern cyberpunk media that use the tropes of the genre, and the fears associated with those tropes, to great success and without falling into Orientalism or the xenophobia that accompanies it. Love Shore, currently in development by Perfect Garbage Studios, and the recently released Umurangi Generation by Origame Digital, both center narratives around marginalized people in techno-dystopias without falling into Orientalism. Katana Zero by Askiisoft uses the “Cool Japan’’ trope and techno-Orientalist street samurai iconography but flips these tropes on their head in a staggeringly effective way.

Cyberpunk stories can be told effectively without supplanting the fear of the “other” while simultaneously aping culture for the sake of aesthetics. We can have stories about fighting back against ultra-capitalist corporations and authoritarian dictatorships that step away from the tropes that have continued to drag the genre down. It’s what we deserve, and what stories about our future — as bleak as it may be — should be about.

The Story of Animerama: Origins (Renaissance Josei)

Part one, introducing Tezuka Osamu’s early animation work.

In the 1960s, one of the first studios to make anime for television was Mushi Productions.  Towards the end of that decade, their desire to innovate would lead them to produce a trilogy of animated films under the label of “Animerama.”  These films were a major gamble on their part, a means by which they could tap into both adult and international audiences.  This gamble ultimately ended in failure, and for many decades these films lingered in obscurity.  It’s only in recent years that modern fans have been able to rediscover them and reassess their role in the history of Japanese animation.

This is the first is a series of essays chronicling the history behind this ill-fated trilogy.  It will explore the careers of the two men who helped bring these films into existence, the studio that killed itself making them, and the legacy of these films left upon the history of anime.

This is the story of Animerama.

Comics Publisher INKR Issues Statement on Translation Rates (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

The statement comes in the wake of public criticism aimed at the studio over the past week.

Comics distribution platform and app INKR issued a statement on Sunday addressing criticisms of the company’s translation rates. INKR admitted to paying $0.01 per character for JP-EN translation work, and claims that the rates have since been adjusted to be “on par with the industry average.”

The company also responded to accusations that it uses machine translation to undercut translator pay and produce low-quality work. “We created INKR Localize — a specialized software meant to make the process of localizing comics much faster and easier by automating most of the mundane activities, so that the translators and typesetters can focus on what they do best.”

THREAD: Translation of a Japanese thread of the importance of men pushing other men to change their harmful behavior rather than simply assuming women will change things.

THREAD: Petition urging the Tokyo governor to adopt a civil partnership system for the city.

THREAD: A lecturer’s experience of antisemitism while lecturing at the Fukushima Auschwitz Peace Museum.

TWEET: Video of a Japanese police victim harassing a Black-Japanese man on the assumption he had drugs.

TWEET: Response thread of Black fandom artists in light of Twitter’s latest harassment campaign (this time of an artist who drew Black Hatsune Miku)

BONUS: A very important rerecording of “Cruel Angel’s Thesis.”

AniFem Community

The best feeling is when a show just keeps climbing higher as it goes.

Non Non Byori (Repeat)!
Mob Psycho 100 s2 is light years ahead of the already pretty good first season, moving beyond the more standard shounen faire and really showcasing the more interesting themes of the show like compassion and emotional growth.

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