Weekly Round-Up, 28 February – 5 March 2024: Black Womanhood in Anime, Animator Wages, and Oni Onsen

By: Anime Feminist March 5, 20240 Comments
Princess joyously enjoying a cup of tea

AniFem Round-Up

Immaturity and Impunity: Performative Masculinity in Baki the Grappler

With its hyper-swole dudes and strength-above-all storyline, Baki is a fascinating examination of toxic masculinity.

Love Him to Heal Him: Heterosexual wish-fulfillment in Mars and I Sold My Life For 10,000 Yen Per Year

“Woman nurses emotionally wounded man” is a common fantasy, but how it’s executed–and how the woman is treated–can vary wildly based on intended audience.

Chatty AF 202: Revolutionary Girl Utena Watchalong – Episodes 13-20

The watchalong dives into the Black Rose Saga, Anthy’s deepening characterization, and Wakaba’s devastating two-parter.

What physical manga do you want to see available digitally?

Older titles are still falling through the cracks.

February 2024 Patron Newsletter and Staff Recommendations

News on what the team’s been up to and some bonus manga recs.

Beyond AniFem

‘No bath for almost a month’: Sexual minorities struggle at shelters in Japan after quake (The Mainichi, Miyuki Fujisawa)

Some shelters have divided bathrooms and baths into men and women.

On Feb. 16, Matsunaka and others compiled a request regarding support for sexual minorities in disaster areas, which they submitted to Ishikawa Gov. Hiroshi Hase. Part of it read, “In addition to the special nature of the disaster-stricken areas and evacuation centers, the people concerned and those around them in the Hokuriku-Noto region, where human relations are very close, are finding it more difficult to speak up.” The governor responded, “We would like to take appropriate measures.”

Azusa Yamashita, 40, an assistant professor at Hirosaki University in Aomori Prefecture familiar with the needs of sexual minorities in times of disasters, commented, “Even with limited resources, there are things that can be done to address their various problems.” These include establishing times when baths and changing rooms can be used individually, and when there are multiple toilets available, posting a sign on one of them saying that it can be used by “anyone” regardless of gender.

Yamashita also pointed out, “There are also people with individual needs besides sexual minorities, such as people with a caregiver of the opposite sex.”

Regarding gender issues, there have been cases in past earthquakes where same-sex couples could not enter evacuation centers for fear that others would pry into their relationships. In 2016, Iwate Rainbow Network, which Yamashita presides over, compiled a “Rainbow Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Guide” regarding the problems faced by sexual minorities plus countermeasures, which it has released online in Japanese and English.

Anime Producer Kouichirou Itou Faces New Accusations of Obscene Acts With a Minor for Money (Anime News Network, Anita Tai)

These charges are in addition to the initial accusations for which Itou was arrested.

Itou was first arrested in late February for allegedly soliciting a 15-year-old high school girl living in Nagano for nude pictures of herself. Itou admitted to the charge, though according to authorities he claimed that he had “done it with other people, so [he couldn’t] tell if it was this girl or not.”

Itou allegedly paid the minor 12,500 yen (about US$83) in electronic money for the photo or photos according to TBS News. The outlet also stated police found other videos and images on Itou’s computer and are investigating them.

According to the authorities, Itou asked the girl for the pictures in September 2021, with full knowledge that the girl was a minor at the time. Police said that Itou’s alleged crime was discovered as part of a different prostitution investigation. The police are investigating if there are other victims that were involved with Itou.

Japan’s big airline cabin crew dress codes get gender-neutral revamp (The Mainichi, Tadakazu Nakamura)

Several other major airlines also have versions of gender-neutral uniform rules.

ANA amended its regulations in November 2023 to largely eliminate gender distinctions for hairstyles, makeup, nails and accessories. Previously prohibited, male makeup such as foundation, primer and lip gloss is now permitted. As long as the appearance is clean, foundation is acceptable, as are nail colors within specified limits. An ANA spokesperson explained, “We wanted to minimize gender differences. We comprehensively assessed factors such as customer perception and societal values in terms of cleanliness. This is an era where men’s makeup is becoming commonplace as part of personal grooming. For both men and women, makeup that compromises cleanliness is not allowed.”

According to the airline, feedback from its male flight attendants has been positive, including, “Applying natural foundation to conceal skin blemishes has brightened my impression and mood,” “Letting men choose makeup will have a positive impact as our numbers increase,” and, “This (policy) is in tune with the times.”

The pants option for women is, in fact, a revival; ANA’s female flight attendants sported bell-bottoms from 1974 to 1979. An airline representative said, “It’s desirable to provide options that make it easy to work.” Feedback has included, “They’re functional as it is easy to move in, especially when squatting, sitting or stowing luggage,” “These are something I’d like to wear during flights to cold regions or on long-haul routes,” and, “It allows for a personal style.”

Anime to Watch on Funimation Before They Disappear from Streaming (Anime News Network)

Several stone-cold classics are set to become unavailable in less than a month.

If there are two things Kunihiko Ikuhara is known for as an anime director, it’s being incredibly obtuse, and shilling lesbians. While Revolutionary Girl Utena remains his most iconic outing in the latter category, Yuri Kuma Arashi represents his most direct attempt at tackling the subject of queer romance. The series takes place in a world where humanity has created a giant wall to defend themselves from the threat of bears who have come from another world and can disguise themselves as human girls. A pair of bears named Ginko and Lulu infiltrate an all-girls academy for Ginko to reunite with a girl named Kureha who she met as a child, but Kureha hates bears and wants revenge on them for taking her “friend” Sumika away from her.

While that premise seems like a mouthful, the actual plot of the show is pretty secondary to what it wants to convey. The concept of “schoolgirl lesbians” is one that’s been used in Japanese society to treat attraction to other girls as just “a phase”, and the show brazenly tackles that perception. Many of the girls within Kureha’s school are pretty deep in the closet, and hiding their desires out of fear of exclusion for not following societal norms. As the show goes along, it becomes increasingly apparent that the threat these girls fear from the bears is less physical, and more in being open with their sexuality, and everything that comes with it. It’s a messy story and one whose obtuse nature and barrage of visual metaphors require multiple viewings, but it’s extremely compelling and serves as a shining example of why Ikuhara has maintained such a strong reputation as a director.

100 Porn Stars March Japan’s Streets Protesting New Law (Unseen Japan, Himari Semans)

In practice, a well-meant law has interfered with many adult actors’ ability to work.

The law came into effect in 2022 when Japan’s age of adulthood shifted from 20 to 18. The goal was to intervene between underage girls and predatory AV productions. It stipulated that filming can only start one month after a star signs their contract. Additionally, a company can’t release films until four months after production ends. Producers also have a legal obligation to supply a copy of the contract to the signee.

Legislators intended the law to protect women from appearing in AV without understanding the full terms. In particular, it targeted unscrupulous companies who would coerce young women into appearing in porn. A common pattern was forcing women to sign a contract before they read it and then threatening legal action if the victim didn’t carry through on the terms.

However, the AV industry’s actresses and producers say it’s causing more harm than good for working professionals who depend on the industry for their livelihoods. Protestors say that the months-long bans are too restrictive and violate their constitutional right to work.  

AV actress Yatsuhashi Saiko, 30, participated in last month’s march. She told reporters that when considering “freedom of speech and freedom of choice in employment, the fact that these laws can be made arbitrarily is problematic.”

Japan foreign minister says women’s involvement key to peace efforts (The Mainichi)

Kamikawa is the first woman to become Japan’s foreign minister in 20 years.

She also called for urgent attention to protect and provide relief for women and children who are in vulnerable conditions amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and conflicts in the Middle East.

Regarding support for Ukraine, Japan plans to focus on providing shelters and protection for victims of sexual assault, alongside educational assistance for children, among other issues, the minister said.

“From the initial stages of humanitarian aid through the longer-term goals of rebuilding people’s lives, we will take the WPS approach at every stage and promote concrete measures,” she said.

When asked about her experience with gender issues on the diplomatic stage, Kamikawa recalled a Group of Seven meeting she attended last year in New York. There, she noted that the eight foreign ministers, including from the European Union, were evenly split between men and women, a development that members welcomed.

“The female foreign ministers are all very articulate and have rich personalities,” she said. “I also see many women in diplomatic delegations. I strongly feel the need for more active participation of women.”

Oni Onsen BL Demo Review – Creating Steam with a Hunky Harem of Oni (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

A hefty demo for the game is currently available.

The oni tell Mina they are trapped in the onsen until they can get a member of the Hayashi family to give them “love”, a sentiment they take literally. Because Mina is the person running the onsen, they mistake heras the heir to the Hayashi family, and immediately set their sights on wooing her. Mina is not here for any of that and sets the oni to doing manual labor around the onsen.

To make matters even messier, the true heir to the Hayashi family, Asano arrives at the onsen with his eyes set on revenge. His feeble attempts to destroy the onsen fall flat, but attract the attention of the oni who find the handsome sad boy…cute? And so they set out to seduce him instead…

I know, it sounds bonkers. This is definitely one of the most over the top game premises. But it kind of works if you don’t take it too seriously. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Oni Onsen reads more like a comedy packing in more jokes to balance out some of the darker elements. To call the relationship between Asano and his former mentor, Sukuna icky is an understatement. But, with the playful anachronisms like feudal dick pics and sacred Brittney Spears posters, Mina’s IDGAF attitude, and Asano’s melodramatic emo soliloquies it’s easy to overlook the “drama”.

Aku, contributes to a majority of the slapstick with his bizarre mannerisms and hijinks (I mean he is a chaos oni afterall). But, who could forget Shudo the Kyoto oni with a Scottish accent or Nensu, the reformed baddie who has found religion of all things… constantly spouting doctrine from several major and minor religions.

VIDEO: Depictions of Black womanhood in anime.

VIDEO: Miyazaki’s impact on the fight for fair wages for animators.

VIDEO: Berserk’s Guts and PTSD

AnIFem Community

Yeah, we were all thinking about Fantagraphics a little bit.

I want an English app for the Hana to Yume and Nakayoshi magazines. There are so many manga from both I would love to read (especially Nakayoshi, which doesn’t have many licenses) and I really want at least one shoujo app since shounen fans have Jump+.
NABARI NO OU. It has been out of print for so long and certain volumes are impossible to find at any reasonable price (or even unreasonable price, only insane ones) anymore. Let people read this masterpiece!
Yes! Saw the image for Wandering Sons and immediately was like "That one there!" The hard covers looked nice but were way to expensive here in Canada and now I can't find them at all. *grumbles*

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: