Weekly Round-Up, 27 March – 2 April 2024: A Sign of Affection Production Process, Disability Accommodations, and Sega’s Union

By: Anime Feminist April 2, 20240 Comments
giant robot Bravern and his shirtless pilot Isami interrupted as they're about to kiss

AniFem Round-Up

Who is Granted Personhood? Frieren’s demons and the trouble with the “inherently evil race” trope

The quiet, meditative fantasy series has one major bump: its demons, whose characterization as a two-dimensionally evil race clashes with the rest of the writing.

Crunchyroll fails to meet industry standards for Closed Captioning

While other streamers like Netflix, HiDive, and RetroCrush caption their entire dubbed libraries, the monopoly-holding Crunchyroll only does so for a fraction of their library.

Studio Apartment, Good Lighting, Angel Included – Episode 1

A magical girlfriend show with a lot of eyestrain and no thoughts in its head.

Spice and Wolf: MERCHANT MEETS THE WISE WOLF – Episode 1

Contemplative, intriguing, and thankfully matter-of-fact about its use of nudity.

Gods’ Games We Play – Episode 1

Extremely “just okay,” but it’s neat to see day-one dubs in multiple languages.

Train to the End of the World – Episode 1

A promising post-apocalyptic travelogue by an industry legend.

Re:Monster – Episode 1

The first two minutes are magically awful, and then it has the gall to be extremely mediocre.

What’s your favorite anime that’s not available on streaming?

Seeing as there are a lot more potential answers now!

Beyond AniFem

Animating A Silent World – Yubisaki to Renren / A Sign Of Affection Production Notes (Sakuga Blog, kViN)

The production process, from choosing a series composer with background as a live interpreter and sign language teacher and working to keep crucial signing animation in-house.

It was quite a few years later, with the two of them having become housewives and remaining in contact despite having moved to different prefectures, that the idea of teaming up to reclaim their old dream was brought to the table. And of all things, it was Bakuman’s story that helped them realize they could combine their complementary skillsets to pursue that goal together. That decision was made on May 21 2009, and by the following year, they had already made their official debut. With two major serializations under their belt across the following decade—Like a Butterfly and Short Cake Cake, 12 volumes each—the preparation stages for their next work made them realize that there was a topic that the two of them had wanted to tackle: sign language.

Amusingly, neither had brought it up because they were aware of how big of a challenge it would be for the other; lots of research to deal with it properly from a writing standpoint, and just as much nuance to capture visually for that to pay off. While they were struggling to come up with a pitch that would convince their editor, Nachiyan blurted out that theme, and the two of them agreed that the extra effort would be worth it. With their ideas not fully clear but everyone on board, their research process began. Their own knowledge of sign language, specialized books, and various interviews they did were the starting point, but it was made clear to them that many details would need constant supervision by hearing-impaired people. Searching for that first-hand experience, they found their way to the sign language café where they met Yuki Miyazaki, with whom they hit it off so quick that she immediately became Yubisaki’s sign language supervisor; a fast friendship partly caused by the fact that she shared the name with their planned protagonist for the series.

To this day, they still meet Miyazaki every month to prod her with questions about how she might react in a certain situation, listen to her stories, learn sign language, or simply hang out. In the volume releases of the series, they summarized their actual working process like this: Makiro reaches out to Miyazaki with the storyboards to check them and learn the relevant sign language, allowing them to record videos of its usage, then send to Nachiyan so that she can begin drawing in earnest. Beyond this more mechanical help when it comes to depicting sign language, Miyazaki’s experiences have given them a better grasp of what Yuki’s daily life may be like; the way she’d position herself to read lips better, the types of words she may struggle with, or the specific ways in which sounds blur together.

Japan sex-ed group faces tough requests on ‘taboo’ topic: ‘Don’t talk about intercourse’ (The Mainichi, Richi Tanaka)

Like in America, many students report learning about sex primarily from friends or the internet.

After talking about the mechanisms of the human body, they read aloud a “kamishibai” paper play that illustrated an encounter between a man and a woman and scenes of sexual intercourse, and explained, “You were born after an egg and a sperm became one.” Touching on equal human relationships and sexual diversity, they added, “Thank you for being born.”

This type of class is called “comprehensive sexuality education.” International organizations such as UNESCO have prepared guidance outlining how to proceed with lessons, and it is considered the international standard for sex education. Eight concepts such as understanding gender, the human body and its development, and sexual and reproductive health are gradually and consistently taught from ages 5 to 18.

Children aged between 9 and 12 are taught that pregnancy can occur as a result of sexual intercourse. This aims to teach children to make their own informed decisions about when and with whom to have sexual intercourse, and that the safest way to prevent premature pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is to avoid sex.

Despite global trends, teaching about sexual intercourse tends to be seen as taboo in Japanese public education. One of the reasons for this is restrictions implemented in the curriculum guidelines for elementary and junior high schools, which regulate what can or cannot be taught to students. These state that science class for fifth graders “should not cover the process of human fertilization,” and the health and physical education course for junior high schoolers “should not cover the process of pregnancy.”

Japan: Aichi is first prefecture to consider same-sex couples with children as family (International Monitor, Diego Moreno Villagro)

The program is meant to provide benefits for families with renting, insurance, and cell phone costs.

The certification framework is intended to cover both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples who cannot marry for some reason, as well as relatives within the third degree of kinship.

Those who take the oath will have the right to public housing provided by the prefecture and will have the right to give consent when a loved one needs surgery at a hospital managed by the prefecture.

Applicants must notify their intentions to the prefectural authorities at least one week in advance, and couples can complete the declaration process either in person or online.

Once the family declaration is approved, applicants will receive an A4-sized certificate, as well as a family identification card that they can carry in a wallet.

Japan firms now legally obliged to accommodate disabled customers (The Mainichi)

The current concern is defining the fuzzy line of what counts as “excessive burden” for aid.

The move comes after a law banning unfair discrimination of the disabled was revised in 2021 to require a minimum level of assistance. Before that, companies had only been advised to help.

In order to not impose excessive burdens on companies, they are now required to take necessary measures only if the accommodations fall within the scope of normal operations.

Companies are not permitted to refuse special treatment to people with disabilities, and instead are urged to come to an agreement through “constructive dialogue.”

For example, staff of a supermarket are now expected to help customers collect products they desire, particularly from high shelves, to provide portable ramps to bypass steps and to communicate with sign language or illustrations tailored to each disability, according to guidelines drawn up by the state.

The government also presented specific examples of violations, such as ignoring a request from a person with writing difficulties to use a digital device when sitting an exam because of a lack of precedent.

5 More Women Mangaka You Should Know for Women’s History Month (Black Nerd Problems, Carrie McClain)

Five artists from a variety of eras, many of whom are still active today.

As I often say, Shojo is my first love when it comes to manga–and Josei is a close second. I shared volumes of the messy Happy Mania manga series with my friends in high school. I later read In Clothes Called Fat (the review was my first published credit!). I also adored Anno’s Sakuran years ago and wanted to read more of her work, not yet available translated in English. That title is one I often recommend for manga lovers who have a liking for manga that leans into the historical genre and that is also written by a female mangaka. There are usually a lot of glamorous takes when tackling lives of such women who become sex workers, yet this one throws in the heartbreak, the societal rules, and the varying ways of forcing women into strict gender roles that complicate the narrative.

Anime News Network lists that Anno was once an assistant of Kyoko Okazaki’s, which is a wild and amazing connection! Another famous person Moyoco Anno is connected to is her husband: Hideaki Anno, best known for Neon Genesis Evangelion, which was fun to read about their adventures of their wedding and married life in Insufficient Direction. Anno is on this list as she’s always felt like an underrated outlier in the Josei manga space–there was never enough of her work out for others to truly get a feel of her storytelling process. Thanks to publisher Cork, there are three series available to read digitally–(I’ve been reading them on the Azuki app). I can always expect glamorous women, fashionable clothes, and drama bombs in most of what I read. The women in her manga are not perfect, perhaps messier than they are redeemable, but they are women who don’t shrink and take up space. They are women who make demands of life and refuse to settle and follow their dreams or desires to the end of the road. In the stories created for children like Sugar Sugar Rune and The Diary of Ochibi, Anno crafted hilarious yet heartwarming tales adapted for anime and other forms of media.

Sega Workers Secure Union Contract, Despite Layoffs (Aftermath, Nathan Grayson)

The victory came despite massive layoffs at Sega.

Yesterday afternoon, the 150 workers remaining in the union voted to ratify the contract. A representative of the union told Aftermath that this proves “a collectively-bargained contract with substantial improvements and protections is possible even when management takes a hostile stance toward worker organizing.” Sega workers’ touch-and-go uphill battle stands in contrast to, for example, Microsoft, which has taken a neutral stance on unions, recently allowing an unprecedented 600 Activision Blizzard employees to unionize. 

Sega workers’ contract includes just cause protections, layoff protections, commitment to crediting everybody who has worked on a video game, commitment to a hybrid work model for at least the next six months, consistent raises for every worker in the unit, advance notice of labor-related policy changes and any use of AI that could impact employees, and codification of an annual bonus plan, retirement benefits, health insurance, parental benefits, and bereavement leaves. 

‘Showered with abuse’: Hate toward Kurds in Japan surfaces via phone calls, email (Pt. 2) (The Mainichi, Takuro Tahara)

This is the second part of a two-part series. Includes extensive discussion of racist hate speech.

Discriminatory remarks targeting ethnic groups are repeatedly made based on individual “crimes” or “terrorism.” Takahiro Akedo, an associate professor at Osaka Metropolitan University who is familiar with the issue of hate speech, points out, “In Western countries, anti-foreign sentiment easily escalates from a sense of crisis over labor and employment, with people claiming, ‘Our jobs are being taken by immigrants,’ but in Japan, there is a tendency to call for the exclusion of immigrants and refugees as a security issue based on the self-consciousness that ‘Japan is a safe country.'” He added, “Recently we’ve seen incitement and heightened hate, mainly online, coming from visible incidents involving Kurds and the fact that they have been labeled ‘terrorists’ and other things.”

He added, “The hate speech elimination law maintains a relatively narrow definition of hate, but even then, it regards public announcements threatening lives, exclusion of people from communities, and severe insults targeting people belonging to specific groups as hate speech. Claims directed at ‘foreigners’ and specific groups identified by nationality are problematic in and of themselves, and the issue of whether or not there are criminals within that group is not grounds to justify hate speech.”

Thinking of children

Kurdish people, who predominantly live in mountainous regions in countries including Turkey and Syria, are referred to as the “largest ethnic group without a nation.” Many of them have experienced government oppression and say they have come to Japan fearing for their safety and applied for refugee status after they or their relatives have been detained by Turkish authorities.

However, there has been only one case of a Kurdish person being recognized as a refugee. Some hold residence statuses such as “Designated Activities” and have permission to work in Japan, but there are quite a few others living under provisional release, temporarily exempted from detention. Provisional release does not come with permission to work. Those who are provisionally released are forbidden from traveling outside the prefecture without permission and cannot enroll in the national health insurance program. They are placed in a harsh situation, and some of them have secretly engaged in demolition and other such work to make a living, even though they fear detention by immigration authorities.

Woman plans to testify against comedian over alleged sex abuse (The Asahi Shimbun, Amane Shimazaki, Bunna Takizawa and Kazufumi Kaneko)

The woman has been subjected to continual online harassment since coming forward.

The woman told The Asahi Shimbun that whenever she sees Matsumoto in videos or advertisements, she is reminded of the incident and feels that she is back at the hotel.

As for why she went public with the allegations, she said: “I didn’t want to pretend it never happened. I thought it was my mission to speak out, not to cry myself to sleep.”

After the article was published, posts on the internet accused her of being a “liar” and “motivated by money.”

“My testimony in the article is true, and I did not receive any money from the (publisher),” she said.

Because of these online posts, she remains worried about being doxxed and strangers entering her home. She keeps a kitchen knife by her side at all times, even while sleeping or taking a bath.

The woman commented on Matsumoto’s statement released on March 25 in which he said, “I want the truth to come out to the world, and I want to do comedy as soon as possible.”

She said, “I felt a sense of discomfort in the way he talks as if he is the victim.”

Takarazuka Revue, family of deceased performer reach agreement (NHK World)

The Revue has publicly acknowledged that the incidents were harassment.

Takarazuka Revue released an investigative report last November. It said psychological stress on the performer due to long work hours could not be ruled out. But it said bullying or power harassment could not be confirmed.

The bereaved family, on the other hand, has claimed that there were 15 incidents involving senior performers and senior theater officials that constituted harassment of the deceased woman.

The sources say that Sumi Kazuo, the chairman of Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, the parent company of the theater’s operator, apologized in person to the bereaved family on Thursday.

They say senior members of Takarazuka Revue have also offered a written apology to the family.

VIDEO: Panel on Feminine Horror in Silent Hill.

AniFem Community

Monopolies are bad, as it turns out!

Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko) is absolutely my #1, but there’s Stop!! Hibari-kun!, Victory Gundam, Muteki Choujin Zambot 3, and it would be great if Berserk (1997) were streaming obvi, and I also sometimes find myself missing forgotten weirdo post-Eva cerebral shows like Argento Soma and Gasaraki  But I miss Hourou Musuko something fierce
Well considering we just lost Yurikuma Arashi and Samurai Flamenco with Funimation going down, I'd say those.
Planetes!!! God I wish I could recommend this to people without having to show them how to get it.

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