Weekly Round-Up, 27 September – 3 October 2023: Yuri Phantom of the Opera, Missing Hatoful Boyfriend Royalties, and Nonbinary Manga

By: Anime Feminist October 3, 20230 Comments
an older blonde woman exclaims "you're not steve jobs!"

AniFem Round-Up

My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer – Episode 1

A cozy, pleasant start with some Cool Sword Girls and Nice Anime Dads.

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End – Episode 1

Something very special, a beautiful contemplation on finding connections when you don’t know how long you’ll have together.

A Girl and Her Guard Dog – Episode 1

It’s hard to get too up in arms about this age-gap ~problematic shoujo~ when it was so dreadfully, agonizingly boring and badly made.

The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch – Episode 1

It’s extremely disappointing that the show’s central “who’s the adult and who’s the teenager” jokes center on sexualizing a Black-coded teenage girl.

MF GHOST – Episode 1

Not a lot of car racing in this anime from the Initial D creator so far. There are, however, women in very skimpy outfits.

Ragna Crimson – Episode 1

A perfectly solid shounen that’s also basically a Fate/Unlimited Blade Works AU.

Firefighter Daigo: Rescuer in Orange – Episode 1

A refreshing break from stories equating heroism with violence, and a good time too, though hopefully the lone female character gains more prominence.

Berserk of Gluttony – Episode 1

No surprises in this revenge fantasy, but it’s so far free of slavery and assault!

Shangri-La Frontier – Episode 1

Some beautiful background visuals are shackled to a VR setting and a fairly uninteresting protagonist.

Migi&Dali – Episode 1

Strangely beautiful, compellingly weird, often funny, and a deserving tribute after its author’s tragically early passing.

I’m In Love with the Villainess – Episode 1

A lot of your taste for this one will depend on how you feel about the tsundere and her attached tropes, but there’s a lot to hope for too.

Ron Kamonohashi’s Forbidden Deductions – Episode 1

The show utterly fails to live up to the campy schlock its premise seems to promise.

Overtake! – Episode 1

Even if cars going zoom isn’t your thing, the intriguing characters and highlight of financial barriers to competing make a good hook.

The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy – Episode 1

A fairly unmemorable checklist of reincarnation fantasy tropes with a side of fanservice.

SHY – Episode 1

An endearing protagonist in a familiar but women-led and well-executed superhero narrative.

What’s your most anticipated Fall 2023 anime?

Now that we’re fully in the thick of things.

Bonus Podcast (with Transcript) 2023 September: Our Shoujo Starter Pack

We took inspiration from Colleen’s Manga Recs for a special extra-long bonus podcast.

Beyond AniFem

Phantom of the Black Rose Revue (itch.io)

A pay-what-you-want visual novel mash-up of ‘70s shoujo and the Phantom of the Opera.

The Black Rose Revue, an all-female musical theater troupe steeped in tradition and high esteem, has a new star on the rise. Twenty-two year old Chihiro Sato has quickly become the newest sensation for fans of the Revue. Sweet yet determined, Chihiro is ready to chase her dream: become the most famous musumeyaku in Japan. 

But the theater, a sanctuary of glamour and brilliance, cradles shadows within its embrace.  The corridors buzz with whispers of ghostly apparitions and ominous shadows, intensifying backstage tensions. As Chihiro steps deeper into the limelight, mysterious, increasingly obsessive letters begin to adorn her vanity,  which grow steadily more obsessive with every message sent. 

Will you sculpt a destiny steeped in unparalleled fame? Embark on a romance that will be sung through the ages? Or unearth secrets draped in shadows, whispering of forbidden truths? The threads of fate are in your hands, waiting to be woven into the tapestry of the unknown…

We Love Boys’ Love (Anime News Network, Christopher Farris and Monique Thomas)

A round-up of suggestions new and old and thoughts on the genre’s lasting appeal.

Nicky: Those little insecurities make the characters of Given feel alive. I was especially impressed with how the first season handled the crux of Mayfuyu’s arc, and I still fall to tears thinking about “A Winter Story,” the song he sings in the ninth episode. I even had a brief lapse in sanity when I tried to cover it myself before returning to my senses. It’s that kind of emotional power that I think it’s possible to enjoy the story regardless of any pre-existing relationship with BL; I recommend Given on its drama alone.

Chris: It’s just an extremely powerfully composed story on its own, though I don’t think it would work on the same level were it about more conventional heterosexual couples. Given doesn’t go all-in on the societal pressures and problems that come with being gay (and I think it’s better for it). But that aspect, as mentioned earlier, of the taboo, the worry to yourself that there might be something wrong with you as you come to terms with your love, is very much a component that mixes in to make its characters’ arcs compelling.

That’s not something I think all BL stories need, to be sure, but it serves as one more example of why it’s valuable to have more works that utilize non-normative viewpoints like this.

Nicky: Regardless, all BL anime deserve to be treated with competence and care. Such has not always been the case. As it’s not mainstream, BL anime tends to get hit with the wrong end of the yaoi paddle. So not only do we not get many of them, but some of the ones we get are hampered by poor production values. Such was the case with The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window anime, which I think would’ve been interesting if there was just a little more effort.

Castlevania: Nocturne is a revolutionary epic that does the franchise’s best games justice (The Verge, Charles Pulliam-Moore)

The new series stands on its own merits outside of the first and the games.

Nocturne reworks a number of Castlevania’s classic supporting characters like Maria — who fights using reimagined versions of the Four Sacred Beasts — and empathic singer Edouard (Sydney James Harcourt) to brilliant effect. But out of all the show’s old but new faces, ferrokinetic Vodoun practitioner Annette (Thuso Mbedu) stands out because of how strongly the show introduces her as a woman whose Haitian identity is what makes her able to understand the situation over in France with an exacting kind of clarity.

It’s through Annette and the show’s exploration of Afro Caribbean syncretism that Nocturne expands the boundaries of Castlevania’s magical mythology, which is touched on heavily throughout the season’s eight episodes. Small nods to the video games and gnarly beheadings abound, particularly in the Powerhouse Animation-produced show’s bigger hyperkinetic brawls between its heroes and hordes of horrific creatures.

But in all the bloodshed, Nocturne still finds the time to make its characters (and by extension, you) think about what it means to slaughter technically innocent people for a genuinely noble cause. That beat isn’t entirely original, and Nocturne’s mindful about leaning on it too hard as it begins to weave Annette and Edouard’s stories together with Richter and Maria’s in France. Still, it creates a resonance between the show’s action and the concepts it’s tackling that makes the season as a whole work beautifully.

Epic Hasn’t Paid Hatoful Boyfriend Creator For Two Years (Siliconera, Stephanie Liu)

The article also includes Moa’s full English statement.

Moa, the creator of Hatoful Boyfriend, has stated on Twitter that she has not received a single payment from Epic Games since her game appeared on the platform two years ago. She explains that Mediatonic used to own distribution rights for Hatoful Boyfriend, which would give her royalty fees. However, since Epic Games bought Mediatonic after Fall Guys’s success, she has not gotten any payments from the game’s sales. Epic Games has responded and stated that it is looking into it.

Though Moa has tried to contact Epic Games’s accounting to try and sort this out, she has not been able to get a response until Epic Games reached out to her on Twitter. In a follow-up Tweet, she explains that this isn’t a matter of life or death. She can get by without the royalties from Hatoful Boyfriend. However, she wanted to ask what was going on since Epic Games was the one to suddenly remove the game from the PlayStation Store and mobile e-shops.

Students in Japan meet online with Afghan women in ‘underground schools,’ plan support (The Mainichi, Yukinao Kin)

Masao was inspired by her father, an international journalist.

When Masao returned to Japan, he told Shizuka, “There are limits to what I can report as an individual. However, there should be no limit to humanitarian assistance.” This was a message to her to consider the Afghan problem as her own.

Understanding her father’s wishes, Shizuka called on her high school classmates and friends from the town of Sakuho, Nagano Prefecture, where she grew up until junior high school. She then formed EFAW with nine members, including herself. She thought it was important to first hear directly from the people involved, so she organized the online exchange meeting.

In Afghanistan, there are “underground schools” where women receive education away from the eyes of the Taliban, and some girls continue their studies there in secret. With Masao’s help, Shizuka contacted a representative of an underground school and asked them to participate in the exchange session. After coordination and preparation, the first session was held in June at a public facility in Sakuho. The latest one in Setagaya was the second of its kind.

The underground class run by this representative is currently attended by women between the ages of 6 and 45. However, there are many others who wish to join the school, and at the Sept. 30 meeting, the representative asked for support from the international community, saying that funds are needed to accept more students.

EFAW has also been working to collect donations and sent 80,000 yen (some $530) this summer. The money was reportedly used to purchase teaching materials for use at the underground school.

Grounding The Games Industry (Unwinnable, Phoenix Simms)

Challenging the industry to take action on sustainability.

The first concept I think could be beneficial to design thinking in games and their production is ethical relationality. After Papaschase Cree scholar Dwayne Donald as cited by Métis scholar Zoe Todd, who writes of “Indigenizing the Anthropocene.” Ethical relationality acknowledges not only our cultural interrelationships but our cultural differences, with regard to histories and lived experiences. When you’re approaching any matter with ethical relationality, you are actively aware that your cultural position and experience interacts with other cultural positions and experiences and how that affects any given state of affairs. In Donald’s words, from this awareness of interrelationships you perform “an enactment of ecological imagination;” ecological imagination being not the scientific sense of ecology, but our perception of how as humans we should approach climate change with principles of balance and mutual aid.

Ethical relationality is related to another model of thinking and performance put forth by writers like Zadie Smith in her Intimations of the pandemic and abolitionist scholar Ruha Benjamin’s concept of Viral Justice. Such models use the metaphor of a virus in different yet related ways to get to the core of how we can enact long-term social change or disruption. Just as viruses start off with small microbial reactions and can lead to large-scale events like pandemics, we need to think of small actions that, if made consistently, by many, in a concerted effort, lead to widespread chain reactions.

Top court upholds ruling in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality (The Mainichi)

The Tokyo District Court rejected the appeal of a 2021 ruling.

The eight plaintiffs, who live abroad in countries including Switzerland and France, had argued that foreign nationality was necessary to facilitate their work and lives abroad. But they also had hoped to maintain their Japanese citizenship.

They argued that with more countries allowing multiple citizenship, the clause in Japan’s nationality law that strips people of Japanese nationality violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right to pursue happiness and equality under the law.

The article effectively banning dual citizenship says, “If a Japanese citizen acquires the nationality of a foreign country at their own choice, that Japanese citizen loses Japanese citizenship.”

Sex abuse reparations may just be tip of iceberg in Johnny’s scandal (The Mainichi)

The company intends to rebrand itself as “Smile Up” and focus on victim reparations.

Victims, corporate clients and broadcasters are carefully watching how the agency addresses the fallout from the scandal.

Yasushi Hashida, one of the firm’s former performers who alleges he was sexually abused by Kitagawa as a teen, said on Monday he was “disappointed” there was no announcement of specifics other than the start of compensation payments in November.

Junya Hiramoto, a former Johnny’s performer who was one of the first to allege sexual abuse by Kitagawa, said, “I hope all victims will be provided relief.”

NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, has suspended the inking of new contracts with Johnny’s performers. It said, “We will continue to check whether compensation is paid to the victims and steps toward preventing a repeat of this situation are being implemented.”

Other major broadcasters Fuji Television Network Inc. and Nippon Television Network Corp. made similar statements.

S6E16 – X-Gender, Until I Love Myself: The Journey of a Nonbinary Manga Artist (Screen Tone Club)

Podcast discussion of the two titular manga.

In this episode of ScreenTone Club Elliot and Andy discuss a pair of autobiographical essay manga from non-binary authors and find a lot to discuss and contrast between their very different approaches.

Series Discussed: X-Gender Vol. 1, Until I Love Myself: The Journey of a Nonbinary Manga Artist Vol. 1

Once Again No Webtoon Wednesday… (Stitch’s Media Mix)

Stitch is a longtime and invaluable fandom academic currently going through personal crises.

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AniFem Community

There are almost TOO many things to look forward to this season.

Easily I'm in love with the villainess. It's not every day that the work of a trans lesbian gets adapted into an anime!
I'm definitely watching "The Apothecary Diaries." The animation I've seen looks so beautiful and the plot seems very interesting. "Hoshikuzu Telepath" I'm going to also give a try.  I'm more interested in sequels, however. I'm excited for Spy X Family season 2. And I am reeeeally excited for Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 3.  I haven't watched any episodes yet for this Season as I have been busy, so I want to watch "Frieren: Beyond Journey's End" soon.
The other shoujo anime airing on Thursdays, The Four Brothers of the Yuzuki Family.

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